Archive for August, 2008

What is the point of Dragons’ Den

August 23, 2008

OK, so I’ve not posted for a while, but this just popped into my head. What is the point of Dragons’ Den? I’m sat watching plucky entrepreneur after plucky entrepreneur troop up the stairs for my ridicule and entertainment, and I’m thinking – Does this do any good at all?

A New Opportunity!
On first blush a few years back when the series started, I and many others took it on face value, and thought “hey this is great, another opportunity to pitch to investors”, but lets consider for a moment how good an opportunity this really is. Generally the valuations offered are extremely low and therefore the entrepreneur who will be donating their blood sweet and tears into this business often end up losing out, of course the contacts and networks that the Dragons have bring exponential value to the business, so for a few that are truly in the right place at the right time, it can work. But there are other ways to get Angle Investment as it’s otherwise known; which brings me the second point.

They Thought What!
There are other ways of funding a business fact, proved fantastically by the inventor of the Bedlam Cube, and it may take a few tries to perfect the plan and the pitch – so why risk suffering the near fatal blow that public television viewing so efficiently delivers. Is it really sensible to take your fledgling idea and risk it getting sent up in flames, to the point that no ordinary investor will look twice? Of course this raises another point that cannot escape mention; that as business advisers are so easy to come by – why do so many people get caught out by frankly elementary holes in the plan, model, or numbers (even as much as asking for the ‘wrong’ amount as happened on the last episode)

But it teaches us how to pitch, right?
Er maybe, maybe not – you have to remember that we only see circa 90 seconds of the pitch, which is 3 mins long and we defiantly don’t see all the questions – so we get an ‘edited for entertainment’ cut of the pitch/discussion so whilst one can defiantly draw some important points it doesn’t necessarily show us exactly what a pitch is like. Also there is this whole ‘no notes, no slides’ thing going on, where did this come from? sure PowerPoint via TV is not great viewing and having someone thumbing through notes doesn’t get much better, but it would give those who needed a few aide memoir’s something of a stater for ten, and again in most regular pitches no-one is going to flat deny you notes or slides; although they will judge you if you have too many notes or boring slides – as well they should. so we learn how to do a dragons den pitch – but in other circles that’s just going to look under prepared or over ambitious!

But it’s entertaining!
Er OK, yes it is entertaining – but some people (you know who you are) find big brother entertaining; and I’ve always been under the impression that Dragons’ Den was meant to be more than entertainment, and certainly not at the expense of some of the most dynamic and driven people in our society.

And then it hit me!
That last point, “the most dynamic and driven people in our society“. What Dragon’s Den does so well, so most magnificently, is show us that being enterprising, taking control of our hopes and dreams and doing something, is both possible and normal. The program shows us the slice of our society that makes us successful, the slice that creates wealth, value, and jobs; and it backs that up with the all important caveat; that dreams are great, reaching for the sky is what you need to do – but you must have your feet on firm ground whilst you do it, you must take heed of common sense.

So when you next join Peter, Theo and the rest of the… (whats a collective term for dragons?) anyway, when you next watch them laugh some plucky entrepreneur out of the den, remember the courage and determination that has brought them there, and hope that some of that rubs off on the rest of us.